Some people are fans of German cars, some are fans of American cars, but how many people do you know who can name an Australian car? You might be surprised to learn the number is higher than you think, because many of our favorite American models are based on Australian Ford or GM designs.
The most famous of these is the Holden Monaro, a V8-powered rear-drive bludgeon of a car that gave rise to the U.S.-market Pontiac GTO. In fact, Australia had a penchant for building powerful rear-wheel-drive coupes with manual gearboxes, which is why it’s so sad that after 69 years, Holden will close their doors and mark the end of Australian car production.
Pushed out by Politics
Much like Vauxhall and European Ford, the Australian constituents of America’s two largest automakers enjoyed a good deal of freedom to design on their own. Aussie-built Commodores, Falcons and Utes were icons of their continent, but a change in government policy has made it unsustainable for carmakers to continue with production in Australia.
Toyota left in 2013, Ford in 2014 and this year GM’s Holden brand will be the final marque to shut down operations in the Land Down Under. The majority of the Holden plant’s 950 workers have been retrenched to new jobs, but many of those jobs will leave former plant workers making less than before in casualized or itinerant positions.
A Celebration of Holden Heritage
Sad news though it may be, the proud workers of the plant in Elizabeth attended a celebration of the plant’s last day on Oct. 21. The brand’s large following attended en masse, arriving in Holdens from all generations — including vintage Toranas, Kingswoods, HQ vans and, of course, the venerable Commodore.
A “Dream Cruise,” modeled after car show events held in the U.S., let owners and factory workers parade their new and old Holdens through city streets, while factory workers gathered for a group photo with the final car to roll off the plant’s production line, a bright red SSV II Redline Commodore. The Holden plant will live on as a heritage museum and tribute to the uniquely Australian brand after its staff leaves.
If you own a classic or even a late-model Holden, hold on to the keys — they’re not going to make any more of ‘em.